Minimum Camera Features

Desirable compact digital camera features

Written by Gail Bjork

Looking for a beyond the basics compact digital camera? Here are some desirable features you’re sure to find useful.

Digital camera with variable LCDBeyond the basics, there are several desirable features to consider when buying a compact digital camera.

  • For more creative control
    Get a camera with advanced controls such as manual and/or semi-automatic modes, Exposure Compensation and manual focusing.
  • Wide angle (28mm equivalent or wider)
    Useful for photographing wide scenes; great for getting a wider view inside when backing up is difficult. The faster the lens, the better the low light performance.
  • Telephoto zoom (5X and higher)
    Zoom in to capture subjects far into the distance. Get a Superzoom if you want to get up close and personal. Image stabilization on cameras with long zooms is highly recommended! Compact digital cameras with long zoom lenses generally do best in good light so if you take a lot of inside photos and have high expectations, a DSLR might be a better choice.
  • Low light, high ISO

    You can reduce or eliminate the effect of camera shake when taking pictures in low-light by increasing a cameras sensitivity to light using high ISO numbers. The performance of digital single lens reflex cameras is superior to compact cameras at high ISO because they have large sensors. However the high sensitivity capabilities of a growing number of compacts is improving.

  • Face detection
    The camera detects faces in a scene and automatically focuses and optimizes exposure and flash output. Some cameras let you lock on a specific subject so if he or she moves, focus will follow.
  • Variable LCD
    Variable LCDs, also known as articulating LCDs, twist and tilt so you can take shots at difficult angles. Particularly useful for close-up shots and self-portraits.
  • Extended optical zoom
    Extended optical zooms extend the maximum zoom range of a digital camera with little or loss of image quality. However, the camera may shoot at a lower resolution, depending on the chosen zoom range.
  • PictBridge compatible
    Allows you to use the camera with a PictBridge compatible printer to print photos without a computer.
  • Hot shoe
    A host shoe is used for mounting an external flash, which can produce much better results than a tiny built-in camera flash.
  • Burst mode
    Shoot continuously in rapid succession using burst mode. For optimal results you’ll need a compact camera with a fast processor and use a high speed memory card. Most don’t provide the speed of a DSLR.
  • Digital camera grip
    Each digital camera has a different “feel” so make sure the one you choose fits comfortably in your hands. Some have a built-in grip making it easier to carry the camera as well as handle it when taking photos.
  • Diopter adjustment dial
    A diopter adjustment dial lets you adjust the clarity of a viewfinder. It is particularly useful if you don’t want to wear your eye glasses when taking photos. Be aware that not every camera that has a viewfinder has a diopter adjustment. If this feature is important to you, check before making a purchase.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.